Recruiting Tip: The top 5 items for a recruit’s Christmas wish list

Recruiting Tip: The top 5 items for a recruit’s Christmas wish list

Recruiting Column

Recruiting Tip: The top 5 items for a recruit’s Christmas wish list


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Tomorrow is Christmas.  In spite of the road rage, the over-crowded malls and the stress of trying to find the right gift for everyone, the Christmas season is my favorite time of year. I love the music, the decorations and the reason we celebrate this holiday. I also enjoy submitting my Christmas wish list…

Whether you want a new coat or floor mats for your car, filling out a Christmas wish list is very important if you hope to get what you really want.  The same holds true for the college recruiting process.  If you hope to get a college scholarship, there are a few things that need to be on your recruiting wish list.  For that reason, here are my top 5 items every recruit should include on his or her wish list along with a little information on why these items might help land a scholarship. Hopefully this will give you a little perspective on how college recruiting really works.

#1: Parents who are supportive, but not overbearing

In one of our interviews a few years ago, legendary Penn State volleyball Coach Russ Rose told us: “Support your kids, give them honest feedback and help them to develop educated opinions. A supportive parent means so much in the positive development of a student-athlete.”

In a perfect world, your parents will take a supportive role in your recruiting journey and act as your administrative assistant. Hopefully they don’t believe that your success in athletics is a reflection on their parenting skills and they won’t try to manage your recruiting process. Their role in your recruiting should be as a supporting player, not as your manager or agent.

#2: A coach who is willing to help

A coach in your corner can be a difference maker in your search for a college scholarship. Your current coach is the most credible source to vouch for your athletic abilities. When we asked Coach Mack Brown whose opinion, he considered important when recruiting an athlete, he replied, “We didn’t trust anyone other than our coaching staff and the player’s high school coach.” Most college coaches feel the same way. For that reason, a coach who is willing to take the time to tout your abilities and character will pay big dividends.

#3: Good grades and/or test scores

If being an athlete was more important than being a student, then you would be called an Athlete-Student, not a Student-Athlete. Many student-athletes and their parents underestimate the importance of academics in the recruiting process. College coaches want good students, students who work hard. They don’t want to worry about academic eligibility, and good students are generally highly motivated, hard-working individuals they won’t have to babysit.

#4: A short memory

When college coaches are in the stands, don’t worry about making a mistake. Coaches actually want to see how you react to making a mistake. Your reaction when you give up a goal, miss a layup or strikeout tells so much more about you as a player than the mistake itself. Do you throw fit, or forget about the last play and focus on the next one? Make the next play and the one after that. Great athletes play with confidence and have a short memory.

#5: A solid game plan

A good recruiting game plan is really not that hard. It is a simple three step process:

First, identify as many colleges as you can that will have as much interest in you as you have in them. That means you have to be realistic about your abilities. You have a limited time to find the right fit; don’t waste it on schools that are out of reach.

Second, contact the coaches at the colleges you have identified, express interest in their program and explain how you will be an asset to their team. If coaches haven’t reached out to you yet, then you have to reach out to them.

Finally, pick a trusted coach to use as an advocate and supporter. Ask them to reach out to a few colleges on your behalf.

College recruiting is not rocket science. If you follow this game plan and are persistent, good things will happen.

Here’s the deal

If you receive all or even some of the above items on your wish list, you won’t have to ask Santa Claus for a scholarship. A college coach should be delivering one soon!


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